Portiere: a curtain hanging across a doorway

Merely decorative or truly functional, portieres can provide an elegant alternative to doors. The following example by interior designer Suellen Gregory is especially beautiful:

"This is an interior hall space. It is between the entrance hall and the rear hall, off of which are the French doors leading to the yard behind the house. Off this hall is a darling powder room with a mirrored door to make the most of the natural light coming from the front and back. This little area feels cozy and crisp at the same time."
Center Hall of Richmond, Virginia, residence.
Interior design by Suellen Gregory, Suellen Gregory Interior Design.

Consider using portieres to define a private dressing area in a bedroom. Remove closet doors and replace them with curtains to create a reading nook or mini home office. Let floor-to-ceiling draperies add drama and height to a space - leading the eye upward. Portieres made of Sunbrella or other outdoor fabrics can be open or closed as needed in a sunroom or pool pavilion. I have used portieres to frame less-than-attractive sliding glass doors, simultaneously dressing up the room and drawing the eye to the view outside. 

"Portieres separate the living and dining rooms."
Home in Bedford, New York.
Interior design by Jeffrey Bilhuber.
Photography by Don Freeman.
"The Ultimate Craftsmanship" by Mimi Read.
House Beautiful (November 2007).

"In the living room (foreground), the pair of 1950s French oak and rush fauteuils are from Amy Perlin Antiques; beyond the portieres is a soft, quietly appealing dining room. Armless Elephant Ear dining chairs by Bilhuber and Associates. Ralph Lauren's woven rush Joshua Tree armchairs add weight at each end of the table and balance the general 'legginess' of the room."
Home in Bedford, New York.
Interior design by Jeffrey Bilhuber.
Photography by Don Freeman.
"The Ultimate Craftsmanship" by Mimi Read.
House Beautiful (November 2007).

"An unused basement nook was turned into a guest bedroom. Rich brown burlap portieres create privacy and a cozy-hideaway feel."
A young family's home in Cashiers, North Carolina.
Interior design by Kathleen Rivers.
Architect: Stanley Dixon.
Photography by Francesco Lagnese.
House Beautiful (November 2010).

"[Carol] Curtis and [Sarah] Norwood removed the doors of a closet to re-create a niche they'd seen in a photo of a bedroom designed by the legendary Frances Elkins. Curtains in Jim Thompson silk frame an 18th-century Provencal commode."
Atlanta, Georgia, home of Carol Curtis.
Interior design by Carol Curtis and her daughter Sarah Norwood.
Photography by J. Savage Gibson.
"A Makeover with Mood" by Christopher Petkanas.
House Beautiful (February 2008).

"Separate a closet or dressing area with affordable curtains in lieu of doors. Damask drapes create an elegant entrance into homeowner Betsy Aziz's principal bedroom's dressing room. The star pendant, a trademark of designer Connie Braemer, adds a touch of whimsy."
Drape fabric: Osborne and Little "Amelienborg Rocaille" (F 1428-02).
Interior design by Connie Braemer Design.
Architect: Richard Wengle Architect.
Photography by Virginia Macdonald.
"Photo Gallery: Chic Closets and Dressing Rooms"

"Curtain panels offer a plush alternative to a sliding closet door in this contemporary bedroom. Here, an inexpensive floral bedspread [from Urban Outfitters] was used to create the look of custom drapery. The fabric injects color and pattern into the space, while the pleated-style header adds polish. A large oval stool provides a surface for laying out clothing items or a comfortable spot for donning footwear."
Photography by Tracy Shumate.
"Photo Gallery: Chic Closets and Dressing Rooms"
Canadian House and Home (February 2008).

"Curtains in C and C Milano fabric."
Interior design by John Saladino.
Photography by Max Kim-Bee.
"Serene Palm Springs Home" by Linda O'Keefe.

"Slipcovered armchairs from Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture encourage lingering around the 19th-century Dutch dining table. Curtains like these often fill in for interior doors in the Netherlands."
Annie Brahler's Jacksonville, Illinois, home.
Interior design by Annie Brahler, owner of Euro Trash.
Photography by Bjorn Wallander.
Styled by Philippa Brathwaite.
Written by Douglas Brenner.
House Beautiful (May 2012).

"In the kitchen . . . a linen curtain runs on a track spanning the room and can be pulled 'to conceal the mess of preparation,' [designer Beth] Webb says. Steel-and-glass casements frame views of the pool and garden. KWC Gastro faucet."
Curtain fabric: Samba in Whitewash by Larsen.
Home in Atlanta.
Interior design by Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors.
Photography by William Abranowicz.
House Beautiful (June 2012).

Designer Smith Hanes "turned a negative into a fresh, beautiful positive: he broke up the long hallway leading to the master suite by adding a row of ethereal white portieres. Bedside tables are vintage John Dickinson."
Marie and Steve Nygren's town house in the sustainable village of Serenbe - an eco-community the couple founded in Georgia.
Interior design by Marie Nygren and Smith Hanes.
Photographs by Amy Neunsinger.
"The New UtopiaInterview by Mimi Read.
House Beautiful (December 2010 - January 2011).

"Set just 12 feet from the cliff's edge, the one-story house feels . . . like it's floating on the sea's waves, and the decorators capitalized on that sensation with a palette of serene blues, greens, grays and creams. . . . a striped runner down the long central hall echoes Diane Keaton's living room in Something's Gotta Give. Custom-made light fixtures, a runner by Ruby Beets, and a work by Robert Motherwell in the entry."
Dana Point, California, home overlooking Salt Creek Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
Interior design by Mary Lynn Turner and Marie Turner Carson of M. Elle Design.
Architect: Bob  White of Forest Studio.
Photography by William Abranowicz.
Text by Julie L. Belcove.
"Riding the Waves" produced by Anita Sarsidi.

On the terrace: "Megan found the faux grass chairs in Paris along with custom-made matching pillows and draperies."
Izmir, Turkey, home of Megan Perry Yorgancioglu, a furniture and interior designer, and her husband Doruk Yorgancioglu.
Interior design by Megan Perry Yorgancioglu, Dorya Interiors.

"Splashes of orange and hot pink offset the creamy white Sunbrella fabric used on the narrow settees and for the portieres to achieve a clean, classic look."
Outdoor pavilion of Hamptons-style shingle house and gardens.
Santa Barbara Design House and Gardens. 
Interior design by Linda Chase, Linda Chase Assoc. Inc. Design Studio.
Photography by Karyn Millet and John Bessler.
"Out in the Open" written by Clara Haneberg.
Traditional Home.

"Open or closed, the loggia curtains change the mood. Curtains in Kravet fabric."
Interior design by John Saladino.
Photography by Max Kim-Bee.
"Serene Palm Springs Home" by Linda O'Keefe.

"A doorway curtained with a velvet from Stark."
New York City duplex of interior designer Jean-Paul Beaujard.
Interior design by Jean-Paul Beaujard.
Photography by Miguel Flores-Vianna.
Text by Judith Thurman.
"Romance Language" produced by Robert Rufino.
Architectural Digest (September 2011).

At least one set of portieres has played an important role in the movies. Anyone who has seen the 1939 film, Gone With The Wind, will remember the dress Scarlett O'Hara wore to visit Rhett Butler and ask him for money to pay the taxes on Tara, her family's plantation:

"Green curtain dress (the Portieres Dress) worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind."

I’m so thin and so pale, Mammy. And I haven’t got any clothes!

Suddenly she straightens up as she catches a glimpse of the green portieres hanging at the windows. She swings around abruptly and with sudden brisk decision, walks to them.

(fingering the material and looking up) Scoot up to the attic and get Ma’s old box of dress patterns, Mammy.

Whut you up ter wid Miss Ellen’s po’teers?

You’re going to make me a new dress.

Not outta Miss Ellen’s po’teers! Not while Ah got bref in mah body!

(still staring at the portieres) Great balls of fire! They’re my portieres now!
(she jerks down the portieres, pole and all; drapes the material over her shoulder, turns back to Mammy) I’m going to Atlanta for that three hundred dollars, and I’ve got to go looking like a queen.
Scene from Gone With The Wind.
Copyright Turner Entertainment Co. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


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